Undeterred, Bobcats add Honsou

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Honsou a Bobcat

Charlotte Bobcats Coach Larry Brown just can’t get enough of these athletic, young, exotically ethnic “bigs.” The first year coach announced today the team’s impending acquisition of “Blood Diamond” and “Calvin Klein Underwear” actor/model Djimon Hounsou. “Y’know (we) have Emeka Okafor as our starting center and he’s a very physical player. Then we bring DeSagna Diop off of the bench to provide some more energy, some more length. Now with Djimon Hounsou, I think we have the hottest young frontline in basketball.”

Said ‘Cats veteran Nazr (pronounced: NAH-zee) Mohammed who played for Brown in Philly earlier in his career, “This is just something that Coach Brown likes to see in his big men. He likes bigs that can move, that can get down and dirty.”

“We’re becoming more of a pro team,” Brown said earlier this season after Charlotte traded with Phoenix for France’s Boris Diaw and the Virgin Island’s Raja Bell.

There’s no doubt that the team will benefit from the addition of “Amistad” star Hounsou but there is one player in particular Brown has his eye on. “Sexy Lexy,” Brown commented, referring to rookie first rounder Alexis Ajinca from France. “He’s raw but he’s big and very smooth. Very skilled. I think Hounsou can teach Lex how to channel some of that fire that we all witnessed so dramatically at the end of ‘Blood Diamond.’ Djimon will be a great presence in our locker room.”

Brown's favorite locker room presence

-ASChin

Offense for Defense

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Carroll for Diop

The Bobcats finally make the deal for Diop but do it without sending back Raymond Felton.  ESPN.com story here.  Charlotte Observer story here. Dallas Morning News story here.

1. Positive Spin: The ‘Cats got their man.  All 7’0″ 280lbs, $32million of him.  In exchange Charlotte sends Dallas reserve guard Matt Carroll and former 2nd Round pick Ryan Hollins.  Diop immediately brings size AND athleticism to the frontcourt and allows Coach Brown to matchup with the most physical, biggest lineups in the League.  It also provides insurance and depth in case Okafor goes down with an injury for any length of time.

2. A lot of Raymond Felton fans are breathing a sigh of relief today.  A lot of love being spread out there for Latta’s favorite son and now we know that Felton will still be on the roster for at least another game.  This still doesn’t mean that he’s not being shopped.  For one, he’s still going to be a free agent this summer.  Second, Charlotte just took on $20+ million in a guaranteed contract for a big man while NOT sending back Nazr Mohammed.  So look forward to the ‘Cats trying to move Mohammed before the deadline using Felton’s talent and expiring deal as the bait.

3. Matt Carroll was really sucking it up this season.  For a guy who earned his contract shooting the basketball, Matt was raining it in at a career low 40% from the field this season (26% from 3–ouch).  His +/- ranking for the year is a telling -7.3 which is, yes Bobcats fans, worse than Adam Morrison’s.  So now that Carroll has a new opportunity to get open looks off Dirk double-teams in Dallas, AMMO should finally get consistent minutes off the bench as the primary scorer/shooter.  It should be interesting to see what both players can do with the opportunity.

4. Negative Spin: The biggest negative from this deal by far is from a cap perspective.  The ‘Cats will pay Diop roughly $11million more over the course of his contract than Carroll.  Combine this with Mohammed’s deal and Charlotte has $20million on the books over the next two seasons dedicated to their backup centers.  If the ‘Cats can’t find someone willing to take back Nazr’s deal before the summer of 2010, they’ll essentially be out of the free agent race entirely.  Is there a more obnoxious contract in the NBA?  Not only does Nazr make about $2.5 million more per year than he should, his contract goes inconveniently until 2011.  Did Dumars punk Higgins on this deal or what?

4. Another negative is that Ryan Hollins was included as a throw-in.  Hollins showed a lot of improvement in his limited minutes early this season and actually leads the team in plus-minus.  He’s young, athletic, energetic and fun to watch.  I guess that the team is so heavily invested in Ajinca that they decided one of the raw bigs had to go.  Just like Morrison, it will be very interesting to see what Alexis can do with the opportunity.

5. Conclusion: Bonnell says it best in his blog.  “They don’t act like a team that is out of the playoff race; good – nice to see they’re not giving up.”  Regardless if this is the greatest move in the world or not, it’s encouraging to see that the organization is actively trying to get better.  Can Coach Brown work his magic yet again?  Will we see the team make a huge run into the spring and squeeze in to the playoffs?

-ASChin

Bobcats Trade Rumor: Felton to Dallas?

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What Felton and May get you these days...

Another month, another weird trade rumor.  This one has some serious legs apparantly as the ‘Cats were all but ready to send Raymond Felton, Sean May and Nazr Mohammed to Dallas in a three team deal that would return Thunder backup PG Earl Watson and Mavs backup C Desagna Diop to Charlotte.  ESPN.com’s Mark Stein reports that the deal is currently “dormant” and that once DJ Augustin returns from his “abdominal strain/sports hernia” the deal may go down.

Some quick thoughts on the potential trade:

1. I really hate to keep bringing this up but if Felton/May get dealt together in this trade, we’re basically saying that instead of trading the two (as the 5th and 13th pick in the 2005 draft) for Portland’s #3 pick that year (your choice of Chris Paul or Deron Williams), we’ll instead hold on to them for four modestly-to-completely unproductive seasons and then unload them to Dallas for DeSagna-freakin’-Diop.  You gotta love being a Bobcats fan.

2. That said…this deal could turn out to be somewhat positive for the Bobcats.  If DJ is your man at the point for the future, then you could do a lot worse than Earl Watson.  The 29 year old has pretty much equaled Raymond’s PER over 7 years in the League and is more accustomed to playing in a backup capacity.  At $6.2mil and $6.4mil over this season and next, he’s paid about $2mil more this year than Raymond but he’ll come off of the books completely before the summer of 2010.  Yeah, Earl won’t provide the “heart” that Ray Felton has brought over the last four seasons in Charlotte but he won’t provide any of the “I’m going to drive to the hole at the end of the game indescriminately and throw up a shot and see what happens” as well.  We all like Raymond but his leaving the team won’t be as big of a hole as some might think.

3. DeSagana Diop coming to the ‘Cats is both a plus and a minus.  On the plus side, he provides a very good defensive presence in the lane as a backup C or together with Emeka when the team plays against the likes of the Cavs, etc.  Yeah, his offense sucks, but I’ll take 82 games of Diop playing defense and altering shots over Nazr laboring and incessantly fouling any day.  On the minus side, Diop’s contract is for roughly the same amount per year as Nazr’s but with 2 MORE additional seasons.  Not sure if I want to be paying my one-dimensional backup Center $7mil per in 2012 but hell, the world’s going to end in 2012 anyway so may as well go out in style.  Plus, Diop’s only 26 so we’ll only be paying him until he’s 30.

4. Sean May gets to eat all the Tex-Mex his heart desires.  And he can try out East Texas Burger.  As J.T. from “Planet Terror” would say, “Best in Texas, heh-heh.”

5. The minute that the JRICH/Diaw-Bell trade went down everybody from the local Charlotte online forums all the way up to the major sports networks trashed MJ and Coach Brown.  But guess what, since the trade the ‘Cats have played .500 ball, have looked more balanced, hungry and overall more like a pro-team.  So I’m giving LB the benefit of the doubt on this one.  He clearly sees that DJ is PG to run the show when the game is on the line and that getting another 7′ foot/280lb shot-blocker in the process is going to make the team that much more defensively capable.

Take a look at Boris Diaw’s post trade numbers btw.  Bell‘s too.  Now compare that to JRICH.

The Suns are getting around 17pts, 4 boards, and 2.5 assists per.  The ‘Cats get back a combined 25pts, 7.5 assists and 10 boards.  Not too shabby.

6. DIRECTION:  With all of this, we’re still looking at the ‘Cats building around Okafor, Augustin, Diaw, and (if he doesn’t get traded) G-Force.  They’ll have a decent bench with pro-depth and around $20mil to spend come 2010 if they can recruit someone to come play in Charlotte.  Hardly “State of Suck” worthy in my estimation.

-ASChin